Reviews

Laughter in Ancient Rome

July 25, 2014

At some level, humor is a personal thing, as any one knows who’s made a joke only to be greeted with a fish-eye stare or squirmed uncomfortably as everyone around her laughs at something that seems–not funny. Humor seems to be tied to time, place, personality, age, and occasionally gender. If that’s the case, why […]

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Some Old Favorites About World War I

July 22, 2014

Recently I shared some of the most interesting new books about World War I that have landed in my mailbox.* Wonderful though many of the new books are, it would be a shame to forget the many excellent older books available. Here are some of my favorites: Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory […]

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In which I consider soccer, or at least books about soccer

July 15, 2014

The World Cup is over and some of you are suffering from soccer* withdrawal. Unlikely though it may seem to those of you who know me in real life,I have some reading suggestions that will let you feed both lingering soccer mania and history curiosity. Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains The World: An {Unlikely} Theory […]

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Curiosity’s Cats

July 1, 2014

Research is a big part of my writing work day. In fact, I read far more words than I write in my constant search for a topic, a story,* and/or a telling detail. I have special glasses for the hours I spend on the computer, and eye drops that I generally forget to use. (Excuse […]

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Drowning In Books About World War I

June 25, 2014

It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least in the circles I hang out in) that major historical anniversaries are celebrated not only with documentaries, blog posts and re-enactments, but with the publication of Big Fat History Books. It makes perfect sense from the point of view of writer and publishing house: the centennial of […]

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The Nile

June 22, 2014

In The Nile:A Journey Downriver Through Egypt’s Past and Present, popular Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson leads the reader on a historical travelogue that moves from Aswan, home of the river’s First Cataract, to Cairo’s Gezira Island, from Paleolithic rock drawings to the Arab Spring. The voyage that shapes The Nile is not simply metaphorical. Wilkinson floats […]

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In Which I Give Away A Copy of Nick Lloyd’s Hundred Days

June 19, 2014

As those of you who hang out in history-land know, the centennial of World War I is just around the corner. So far I’ve resisted the temptation to add to the flow of WWI-related blog posts, tweets, and images.* But the pile of books to review and the list of things I want to talk […]

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The Warrior Queens

May 10, 2014

I’m in the midst of re-reading an old friend–Antonia Fraser’s The Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations in War. If I were a more patient sort, I would wait to finish and then write a reasoned post with carefully thought out conclusions. But sometimes you just […]

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Gandhi Before India

April 29, 2014

The first volume of what may well be the definitive biography of Mohandas Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha’s Gandhi Before India covers the years from Gandhi’s birth in 1869 through his departure from South Africa in July, 1914. Biographers have often treated Gandhi’s earlier life– especially his two decades working in South Africa–as a  little more than […]

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The Invention of News

April 3, 2014

At a time when digital media is transforming the way news is delivered–and by whom– Andrew Pettegree offers a reminder that newspapers too were once a revolutionary form of delivering information. In The Invention of News: How The World Came To Know About Itself, Pettegree looks at the changing definition, use, control, and distribution of […]

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